AR Awards for Emerging

Honourable mention



Lacoste, France

December 2006
How long is a piece of string? In the case of Windshape, a pair of wind responsive pavilions embedded in the medieval townscape of Lacoste, the answer is an astonishing 50km. Commissioned by the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for their Lacoste campus as a gathering place for art installations, classes and performances, the leaf-like structures (made from slim plastic tubes) are intricately threaded together with white polypropylene string. By varying the degree of tension in the string, the diaphanous pavilions respond to different wind conditions billowing, rippling, oscillating and changing shape. Lacoste, in western Provence, is periodically buffeted by the legendary mistral, so the local climate is ideal.
Conceived by New York-based nARCHITECTS, Windshape was built in four weeks by its designers, assisted by SCAD students. The complex geometry was broken down into a series of stacked and staggered tripods. These were pre-assembled from plastic tubes (connected with aluminium collar pieces), threaded together, then hoisted into place. Finally, the spaces between the erect tripods were infilled with horizontal lengths of string, anchoring the composition. Bent in place like an archer's bow, the tubes act in compression and the string in tension, creating a strong yet highly elastic construction.
The lightness of the tensile structures forms a delightful foil to Lacoste's massive, limestone walls, and, in particular, to the brooding ruins of a castle occupied by the infamous Marquis de Sade, who lived in the town during the late eighteenth century. You sense he might have quite enjoyed seeing all that string put to such imaginative use. The jury certainly did. C. S.

Courtesy of the architects
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